Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 001

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 001

Life is all Numbers.

Ask any Mathamancer; they know. To live is to stand on one side of an equation, which must equal zero in the end. There is a price, a cost in Numbers, to be paid for staying alive.

Zero is a balance, an equilibrium. Zero is a flat country, neither far away nor near. You can travel there any time, at the cost of your life. And perhaps, if someone were to pay the price to the exact number, you could even return again.

That Mathamancers often say such things, and nod to one another soberly, is thought to be why they tend to keep to their own company. No-one knows what to say to them. Each discipline of magic has its own special insight into cosmic truths. Few casters doubted what was said of the Numbers Axis, but even fewer understood.

Not consciously, anyway.

One day in the country of zero, someone paid a price. Somewhere in the great, infinite sheet of balance, a peak rose up.

Peaceful zeros became ones. Fives. Forty-eights. Agitated hundred-and-twelves. Angry sixty-three-seventy-nines.

The thousands piled up, far above the plane of equilibrium. The numbers rose as a column, into the millions and billions and more, a silver thread stretching up and away from the peace below.

This thread was being drawn up by the system of the world. Thinkamancers knew it as a "Grandiocosmic string." Its numbers were being shaped and guided by the firmament, by what magic theorists called the Erf Axis.

For when the price was paid, it was Erfworld which processed the transaction. The world would produce the unit that was called for...more or less. There was the matter of the Fate Axis as well, and this unit was turning out to be very special. This unit would be worth far more than the buyer had paid for.

That was no violation of Numbers, though. It simply meant that this unit carried a balance due. And though it was an astronomically high figure, someone would pay.

Zero always called, and someone would have to pay.

---

Units belonging to a side always pop in cities. Within those cities, units tend to pop where they are needed: archers to the outer walls, heavies to the stables and courtyards, etc. This particular unit popped in the war room of Minnow Tower, in the capital city of Goodminton.

Her mind was overcome by first sensations. She suddenly wore matte black leather boots, with buckles. She just as suddenly had feet within them. Those feet took her weight. She needed to inhale, and did: her first living breath. A little damp and chilly, she thought. She blinked her first blink, and continued breathing through her nostrils. She smelled damp timbers and brick dust. Parchment and ink. Hardwood smoke. She touched the cloth of her robe with...these fingers, on this hand that was hers.

The garment was soft, thick, woolen, heavy. Also ugly. Slate blue with brass buttons. Goodminton‘s livery. Her side was a winter dominion. She knew these things. She recognized without remembering.

The unit began to unfasten the buttons. She wanted to take off the robe and look at her body, touch it. She felt she must be beautiful, that her Signamancy would teach her much about herself.

Then she heard her first distinct sound: the clearing of a human throat.

Her Chief Warlord had been standing in her field of view the entire time. Not every shape in the room had meaning yet. The room was large, and contained many things. But yes, there he was, beside the cluttered...table? Map table. He was wearing a wool cloak in the same shade of blue, lined with starfox fur. His face was hairy, but friendly. A white smile nested in a patch of coal-black beard.

“I was expecting a brother,” he said. His voice had the husky weight of a hunter‘s horn.

She refastened one of the three buttons she had undone and tilted her head, meeting his blue eyes. She should try speaking words now.

“I‘ve never expected...a thing,” she said, wondering at the sound coming from her mouth.

“You‘re a caster!” said the Chief, losing the reins of his smile as it broadened into a wide grin. He stepped closer to her, hands upon hips, elbows tenting his cloak. He was built like a siege tower. “My sister, the caster. How bizarre! I mean I should be furious. I bet Father will be. What‘s your name? What kind of caster are you?”

“I‘m Wanda.” She said it definitively, although she didn‘t really know her own name until she stated it aloud. “Lady Wanda Firebaugh. I am a Croakamancer.” This, too, she knew only as she said it, but it felt abidingly true. She could animate the husks of the once-living. Yes, she could.

The Chief‘s smile dimmed like a lantern and died.

“Oh that‘ll be interesting,” he said thoughtfully. He licked his lips, looking away at the map table. “Croakamancer. Father will be interested in that, I can tell you. Titans...” He seemed to ponder the implications against the busy strategic situation represented on the table.

Wanda followed his gaze there. It looked messy, but it was a meticulous sort of mess. At least five colors of unit markers were in play. No, six. Slate blue was among the most meager in number. The arrangement of hexes and pieces was actually a neat representation of a mess in reality.

“Well!” he said suddenly, clapping his hands, “welcome home to Goodminton, Wanda! I‘m Tommy Firebaugh, short for ‘Atomic.‘ Father is simply Overlord Firebaugh, of course.” He looked as if he couldn‘t decide whether or not to embrace her. His hands stayed on his hips.

“That‘s the whole family any more, I‘m afraid.” His face darkened. “We‘ll need to get you in front of Father right away. But I wonder if it couldn‘t wait until you‘ve met the other casters. I‘m surprised you popped here and not with Lady Temple, actually..."

Wanda had been glancing around the room, identifying objects as he spoke. When Tommy fell silent, she returned her gaze to him apologetically. Yes, Chief Warlord as well as brother. Respect and attention due.

He heaved a great breath and smiled once more. “Anyway. That‘s the good news, though. We have two casters, besides you. And a number of good warlords, although we were sort of hoping you‘d be more of an axe-wielding berserker type, you know. We could use it about now.” He indicated the battle map. “As you can see. Just the two cities left. Still have allies, but they‘re sort of looking at us like the last slice of cake, you know?”

Wanda wasn‘t sure she fully understood the implications of the map, but her brother‘s chipper tone kept falling off to awkward silence. It dawned on her that the grace and the burden of being a living person might not be hers for very long. Zero was already calling her back.

“Croakamancer,” said Tommy again, looking her up and down. He shook his head as he turned for the grand doors. “Titans...”

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DoctorJest wrote:
sleepymancer wrote:
Still, I reckon the mechanics here strongly imply that had he been a king then she would have been a royal caster. What do you reckon?


I reckon that's a pretty good example of the Begging The Question Logical Fallacy.

"If her Father had been a duck, she would have been a duck caster, so obviously ducks can pop casters!"

The ability for a non-royal side to pop casters "related" to their non-royal ruler answers nothing if royal sides can pop casters who are also royals.


I think it's more of "Royal sides have the option of popping units as Royal, Noble, or normal, Noble sides as Noble or normal, and Overlord-led sides as just normal units".

Remember when Ceaser got word that Don ordered a "Royal Heir" to be popped? If all units popped by Royal sides were Royal, then why specify? Also, Stanley was a non-royal Stabber, popped under a Royal King.
This may help.

Quote:
Tribal affiliation seems pointless, like a cultural thing I think. But royalty is different. Royal and noble units have slightly stronger stats, and level faster. Cities ruled by royals pop nobles (and more royals). Royal empires split off sometimes into new sides. Royals claim to trace their lineage back to days of Titans.


http://www.erfworld.com/book-1-archive/?px=%2F079a.jpg
Akkristor wrote:
I think it's more of "Royal sides have the option of popping units as Royal, Noble, or normal, Noble sides as Noble or normal, and Overlord-led sides as just normal units".

Remember when Ceaser got word that Don ordered a "Royal Heir" to be popped? If all units popped by Royal sides were Royal, then why specify? Also, Stanley was a non-royal Stabber, popped under a Royal King.


Too complicated, and unsupported in the comic. My strong impression has been that Royal sides pop Royal warlords in their capitols, and Noble warlords in their non-Capitol cities. I realize that's not spelled out in the link above, but that was early days still in Parson figuring things out under a deadline, and it's compatible with every unit's starting city I can think of - Vinnie and Lady Artemis for example, versus every heir we know who's starting site was mentioned.

Stanley popped as common infantry and was promoted to Warlord. In fact the whole question around royal casters turns on whether it's non-warlords or just non-commanders. Common infantry need not apply.

The whole deal with the major plot points of Tramennis and of Faq's taking extra turns to pop an Heir, is there's a choice between a non-Heir Royal and a Royal Heir. Heir/non-heir is it's own toggle switch separate for royals, not a royal/noble/common thing.

...

Wanda being Tommie's "sister" tells me the royal caster question is settled in the affirmative, if Slately thinking of a non-Royal caster weren't enough. Though in their current circumstances I can't imagine they took the extra time to pop Wanda as an heir, it seems like an unsupported leap to say Royal Heirs can't also pop as casters, or casters can't be promoted.

"My sister, the caster. How bizarre!" does imply it's a rare occurrence though. I don't know if it's especially rare, as in weighted against for royal commanders, or if sides just pop so many warlords compared to casters that's how it works out.
Lamech wrote:

Also note: When Ansom was talking to Parson he specifically called out the title of "Lord" as just being made up IIRC. This would mean that Lord and presumably its female equivilant "Lady" are in fact noble titles and therefore we ahve a noble caster. (Which would strangely fit the world view of old-Ansom for Wanda being an okay ruler.) Also if Wanda makes an okay ruler, and as Ossomer just showed the decrypted are NOT her puppets I see a wonderful friendship forming.



Just thought I'd point out that one of the first characters we meet is Lord Manpower the Temporary, on Stanley's side. Could be a left over from Saline IV, but I kind of doubt it. After Ossomer, I can't see any royalty serving any side but their own.
For the numerologist-types who are trying to investigate these numbers, if you google the string "0,1,5,48,112,6379" one of the first few results contains the text "8150 1 biological_process 7610 1,0 behavior 30534 1,0,0 adult ..."

I have no idea what the relevance is, I just thought it was amusing :D
Akkristor wrote:
DoctorJest wrote:
Remember when Ceaser got word that Don ordered a "Royal Heir" to be popped? If all units popped by Royal sides were Royal, then why specify?

He may have been distinguishing the new popped heir from an Heir Designate, who could be noble (like Caesar) or even common (like Stanley), specifying "royal" mostly because Don King's new concern for royal tradition was the reason for the act.
BanzaiJoe wrote:
If Wanda caused a disturbance in the force aka the balance of zero...
"That was no violation of Numbers, though. It simply meant that this unit carried a balance due. And though it was an astronomically high figure, someone would pay."

Then, think about how much of balance due Parson brings.

That assumes that he won't break Erf first. He's the type to make it very hard for Erf to collect on his debt.
Tathar wrote:
BanzaiJoe wrote:
If Wanda caused a disturbance in the force aka the balance of zero...
"That was no violation of Numbers, though. It simply meant that this unit carried a balance due. And though it was an astronomically high figure, someone would pay."

Then, think about how much of balance due Parson brings.

That assumes that he won't break Erf first. He's the type to make it very hard for Erf to collect on his debt.


Parson was created on Earth, not Erf. He owes Erf's universe absolutely nothing for stealing him from his home and family. And he is performing a service... breaking a broken world. At the end of this, it's Erfworld that is going to owe him.
Kreistor wrote:
Parson was created on Earth, not Erf. He owes Erf's universe absolutely nothing for stealing him from his home and family. And he is performing a service... breaking a broken world. At the end of this, it's Erfworld that is going to owe him.


Hmm, maybe like the Agent Smith was Neo's opposite in the Matrix, Parson is Erfworld trying to balance out Wanda :) ?
I'm not really digging the whole "marked by fate" explanation of Wanda's popping that we were given here. Part of the fun of reading Erfworld has been watching Parson and the other characters struggling to figure out how things work in Erfworld and dealing with the question of whether or not there really is some grand meaning to their actions. A lot of effort has gone into making those questions some of the bigger ones in the comic for both us and the characters. Simply tossing answers to them out there like in this manner diminishes their importance to us which actually causes us to lose some of our connection to the story and characters. For example, when I first read this page, I was sympathic to Parson's questioning at the end, now those questions have lost most meaning to me as questions I should be asking myself and are simply marking Parson's progress on the development of his knowledge of how Erfworld works.

There's also no room for arguing with the explanation we're given here. The facts described here are presented free of character personality by neutral narration. Wanda is simply more special to the fate of Erfworld than other people. And since she can be more special, then that means there really is a entity in Erfworld that declares people as important or unimportant to the fate of the world and does so based only on its designs. The 'Person of important' worldview that Slately believes in is reality. The Titans really do have a plan for the world and enforce it thru whatever means required. People in Erfworld each have their medichlorian counts set at popping determining how much they can do in the world. It doesn't matter if you're the grand high pooba of a 1000 city side capable of crushing all that stands before you that you put together from scratch, what ever you do with your power will never be as important to the fate of the world as the actions of the guy who was popped to do something more important according to fate. If you try to outdo him, you will fail unless part of his destiny is to affect you with your success.

(To those of you wondering why I'm complaining now about the presence of an unknowable entity or entities who monitor Erfworld's development since knowledge of them should be universal to every erfworld reader because the Titans were introduced on page 1 of book 1, I have one thing to say: Before this we had no proof that they or 'fate' did anything more to the world besides build it. Everything before this has been questionable in one form or another.)